Quebec Premier François Legault had to walk back a joke about another politician being dead after it sparked backlash in the provincial legislature Wednesday.
Pierre Arcand, a longstanding MNA and former interim leader of the Quebec Liberals, was standing up in the Blue Room to ask a question. That is when Legault made a comment seemingly without speaking into a microphone.
“Isn’t he dead?” Legault said.
The quip didn’t go over well. André Fortin, the official opposition House leader, quickly jumped up and demanded Legault “do the honorable thing” and retract his remark.
“No, it’s not even funny, Mr. Premier, ”Fortin said.
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Legault obliged and then apologized on social media shortly afterwards, saying that Arcand is his friend.
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“It was a bad joke,” Legault wrote. “I apologize.”
When asked about the incident by reporters in Quebec City, Arcand said he accepted Legault’s apology but he was still very shaken by it.
Arcand called the joke a “cheap shot.”
“I heard it from afar,” Arcand said. “I was a little stunned. And, listen, I was like, ‘No, he couldn’t have said that.’ “
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The 70-year-old politician added that in “some societies, people who are of a certain age are well respected.”
“I am surprised to see that in Quebec, the most important person at the head of state does not appear to think so,” Arcand said. “I think that’s worrying.”
– with files from The Canadian Press
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